ASU junior accepted into summer program at Carnegie Mellon University


Ricky Cornish

Christopher Frias, a junior in Arizona State University’s Public Service and Public Policy degree program, was selected out of hundreds of applicants to attend the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) junior summer institute fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University.

“I’m very excited and grateful to be doing this,” Frias said. “This opportunity will show me if MPP (Masters of Public Policy) is the right choice for me later on, and what other opportunities are out there for me after undergraduate school.”

Frias’ acceptance is a huge accomplishment for ASU’s School of Public Affairs, and the school takes pride in Frias representing the school at the elite program. The School of Public Affairs’ undergraduate degree program has an incredibly talented and diverse student population. Frias stood out to several members of the faculty and staff as an outstanding fellowship candidate. He was recommended for the program by academic program manager Charlene Becher.

“Chris is able to set himself apart from his peers by being genuinely interested in his studies and taking the initiative to learn more about his interests in Public Service, which include furthering his education through a Master’s degree in Public Policy after completing his undergraduate programs,” Becher said.

Frias discovered the summer fellowship after attending the “Moving the World Forward” conference at Indiana University, held by PPIA (Public Policy and International Affairs). This program creates fellowship opportunities, conferences, and expos to help students achieve a graduate degree typically in public policy, public administration, international affairs or a related field.

“The conference I attended was centered on awareness for public policy,” Frias said. “The PPIA program’s objective is to increase diversity in public policy, and their signature program is the junior summer fellowship.”

The PPIA has a junior summer institute in which five universities — Carnegie Mellon University, UC - Berkeley, Princeton University, University of Michigan, and University of Minnesota — accept students into an intensive seven-week summer program that focuses on preparing students for graduate programs in public and international affairs and careers as policy professionals, public administrators and other leadership roles in public service.

Frias’ experience will take him to Washington, D.C. for a couple of days to have a hands-on look on various viewpoints for public policy. Carnegie Mellon University’s main initiative within the PPIA summer fellowship focuses more on data inside policy management. His fellowship runs from June 14 through August 4.

“The number one objective going into this is to solidify my career track," said Frias. "I’m tossing between graduate school in public policy or law school. This immersive experience will show me what I’m signing up for if I choose the MPP (Masters in Public Policy) route.” 

Along with the hands-on experience, Frias also looks forward to meeting students from  other universities and seeing what impacts they’ve made in their respective communities. The networking opportunities will provide another huge benefit to the Arizona native.

“I will be taking a gap year from undergraduate to whatever I’ll be doing in graduate school. This opportunity will show me if MPP is the right choice for me later on, and what other opportunities are out there for me after undergraduate school,” Frias said.